Hand of Gods
Hand of Gods
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Pairing: Hikaru/Sai, Hikaru/Akira, Hikaru/Akari (oneside), (past paring later)
Rating: T to M
Summary: The cycle of rebirths of Sai and Hikaru and the people who stumble into their lives.
AN: Thank you, Hiyami & Rayvern for previous betas the story.
First, I’m not expert in history much less Japanese history so this is fanfiction, no flame please.
Apologies to all historic Igo players, I’m about ruins some of the great characters in history in the name of fan-fiction.
Final warning, I’m not an Igo player…loved to watch but will lose the game within five seconds and I’m sure that no one could able to beat my record.
Key: Anything in italics are thoughts e.g, ‘I wish this would end already…’. Everything else is normal text and “Blah blah blah” is normal speach
Ok, here’s the anime timeline for those of you who can’t remember or can’t be bothered to remember them so it’ll be easier to follow the story:
2000- Hikaru turned 12 (met Sai at the end of his school year school)
2001-12 years old- Haze Middle School Go club
2003- Hikaru is 14 (1st shodan) –Sai disappears (May 5 2003-Japan Golden Week- on Children Day)
2004- Hikaru returns to Go-Profession
2005- 16 years old (start of story)
Past (Heian Period)
Tsuyujima the Emperor’s Igo instructor POV
I hate him, Fujiwara no Sai. His pretty girlish face did nothing but fuel my anger towards him. Simply put, he eclipses me in everything and that is not acceptable.
I remembered the first day he débuted in Heian’s Court. He was presented to the Emperor by his uncle, the head of the Fujiwara clan and the real power behind the puppet who is the Emperor. Fujiwara no Sai was asked to play an Igo game with the Emperor, it was to be expected, but the outcome was not.
The game had gone into yose and he had lost by half a moku. I sighed with relief and tried not to smirk. The rumours were wrong after all. A genius Igo player he was not and for that I am grateful; maybe he had gained his ‘reputation’ through the use of his clan name and the power that it brought. The Emperor shook his head and asked for another game.
The time passed quickly and the shadows shortened indicating that it was nearly noon. The Emperor, amazingly, was still focused in the game. I was half asleep like the rest of the courtiers when the Emperor’s laugh woke us all.
“My compliment dear Seigo. Tell your nephew to play me seriously; I’m sure it must be taxing trying to lose on purpose by half a moku for the last seven games.”
“I’m sure Sai did not mean to offend you sire” Seigo replied, head bowed in respect.
“Well young man, what do have you to say in your defence?” questioned the Emperor, eyes alight with amusement despite the regal front he presented.
Sai humbly bowed low, “Sire, you have played well and my excuse is that I’ve only tried very hard to pursue you so as not to lose too badly.”
“I’ll be angry if you do not play our next game seriously. Like any Igo player, I would rather have a strong opponent and win fairly than to have won by allowance.” The Emperor eyes flashed with a fiery passion that was rarely seen, but Igo is his passion and a game of mockery was insulting and not a game at all.
Sai took a deep breath, “Then let hope that this game will be to your satisfaction, sire.”
The game did not even last for fifteen minutes. The Emperor’s white stones were clearly overwhelmed by the black. There was no doubt that Sai was far stronger than anyone in the Court, including me. My gut twisted when his eyes fell upon me while the rest gawked at the game.
Sai looked like one of those spoiled children who were born with a silver spoon in their mouth. But there was something more about him, a spiritual soul that lurked behind dark sapphire eyes. I realised at that moment he was everything which I have been working hard to achieve but would never attain. And even in death, I would never be his equal.
I watched him when he was within my sights. Spying and preying on him. He was like a child, innocent to the scheming of the court but then; Igo was his only foremost thoughts. If I was truthful to my inner self, it was not hatred but envy I had for him.
So from the sidelines, I watched him grow in popularity with the other lords and ladies, fitting into the Court seamlessly without all the scheming that I had to go through. It stroked the fire of my hatred for him. Whenever his gaze landed on me, it seemed to reflect the state of my soul back to me, letting me see the vile creature that I had become. I wanted to pluck his eyes out so I would not have to see my reflection because when he was before me, I could not go on lying about myself.
I finally had enough. Especially after that display I had to witness yesterday. He had to die. It was the only way I could attain my peace.
Chapter 2: Chapter 1: Unexpected Feelings
Hand of Gods
Disclaimer & Warning are in prologue.
AN: This chapter beta both by Hiyami & Rayvern.
Key: Anything in italics are thoughts e.g, ‘I wish this would end already…’. Anything in speech marks and italics are radio broadcasts or announcements over the intercom e.g. “Would Akira please come to the front desk”. Everything else is normal text and “Blah blah blah” is normal speech
Chapter One: Unexpected Feelings
Present (April 25, 2005)
The carriage in which they had boarded were full of students, a mixture of uniforms for elementary and high schools. A few older students who wore casual clothes like them were no doubt in the same college as Akari. It was the time of the day when the adults were already at work and the students were just heading out.
Hikaru planned to return home today after seeing Akari off to the campus. He knew it was time for that discussion he had been putting off for a while now,
“Akari, are you sure you want to study here?” his green eyes searched the brown eyes of his friend carefully; he had an uneasy feeling that it might be his fault that had resulted in her studying at her current campus.
Akari leaned forward, her face only inches from Hikaru’s, and almost gave him a heart attack when she replied in a shout, while twisting her hair, an old habit that she does when she’s nervous or happy, “Of course, baka.” . ‘At least she did not pointing her finger at me,’ Hikaru thought. He relaxed and gave in to the comforting thoughts that Akari had not change and she would always remain a constant element in his chaotic life.
“I liked it here and living with grandma is a bonus.” Her voice lowered by several octaves when she caught the stares that were thrown her way.
Hikaru sighed with relief at the cheerful grin; however, in the fraction of a second before the chocolate eyes had turned away, he caught a glimpse of a hidden pain in his childhood friend’s eyes.
“Akari…?” Hikaru questioned, his hand reaching out to comfort her.
His concern was cut short when the train suddenly shook violently. Losing his balance, Hikaru fell forward and was about to crash into Akari, who was thrown backward by the force of impact when he swiftly seized her and turned their body, reversing their positions. The thud of their fall and the pain from his head impacting with a railing were the last things he knew before he slipped into unconsciousness.
Present (Tokyo April 26, 2005)
“Investigators are probing the cause of a commuter train crash. The death toll has increased from 57 to 73 and hundreds more are injured…”
“I’m sorry Touya-sensei, but could you please repeat that?” The clerk behind the counter flushed in embarrassment at being caught unaware by a pair of emerald eyes. The jewel eyes belonged to a young man, barely seventeen, who was often mistaken for a female due to the feminine structure of his face. However, at present, the jewelled eyes flashed dangerously with the barely concealed annoyance of their owner.
“Have you seen Shindo-san today? I believe he’s booked to tutor one of the Insei.”
“I’m sorry. But I have not see Shindo-sensei today, sir. His student was looking for him earlier too.”
Silence filled the room while Touya contemplated the given information as the clerk waited for further questions. If one could listen to his thoughts at the moment, one would be shock at hearing the colourful vocabulary he was using to curse Hikaru. The silence of the room allowed the radio to be heard and some of the words penetrated Touya’s deep thoughts.
“Japan’s Transport Minister Kazuo Kitagawa has arrived and is looking very distraught. ‘We will investigate as to why this tragic accident has happened and put in place new measures to prevent any more meaningless accidents.’ Meanwhile the president of West Japan Railway, Takeshi Kakiuchi, has confirmed that the driver had overshot the stop: ‘The priority now is to rescue the passengers. An inquiry as to why the driver overshot the platform will be made at a later date. ‘…”
“It’s awful isn’t it, Touya-sensei. Luckily, it’s a good thing that I don’t have any friends or relatives living in those areas.” The clerk managed to say before witnessing Touya Akira running out the room and disappearing into the lift.
Present (Amagasaki April 28, 2005)
Akira felt tired and weary after days without news on Hikaru’s condition. The calls that he made to Hikaru’s friends informing them of the accident added to the stress as well as he was not able to answer any questions regarding Hikaru’s situation, only assuring them that he would stay at the hospital and ‘No, [they] do not need to come down to the hospital as well’ and that he would call them should anything change.
He had taken the bullet train as soon as he heard the news. And even then, it took him three hours to get there, only reaching by midnight on the 28th of April. By the time he arrived at the hospital, the hospital was not admitting visitors due to the flood of patients leaving little time for the staff to deal with worried friends and family members.
He gave up after two hours of ‘We will get back to you as soon as possible’ and finally retired to a nearby hotel. He had even tried phoning the hospital. Even then it was useless as he could not get through. It was only then that he fell into a restless sleep. It was only on the second day after he had arrived that a trickle of news regarding Hikaru’s condition had reached him: the other boy finally been identified amongst the injured. By then the death toll had risen to a hundred.
If Akira were to hazard a guess, he would have said that Hikaru’s parents had arrived with most of the crowd on the early morning of the 28th of April. The only reason he spotted Hikaru’s parents amongst the sea of people was that he was actively searching for them after he was given an update on Hikaru’s situation. He was about to approach them when he noticed that Hikaru’s parents were with a few other people. They seemed to be a very close group, seeking comfort from each other in their distress. Guessing that they were Hikaru’s relatives, Akira hung back, letting the group comfort themselves and leaving him to his own thoughts.
Akira felt distraught and the sudden need to go some place where he could rest, perhaps even cry out the frustration that was slowly suffocating him, hit him. The though quickly dissipated, as he knew that even if wild horses were to drag him, he would not leave that spot. Not when Hikaru’s condition was still relatively unknown.
Footsteps interrupted his chain of thought as he saw one of the nurses helping a limping girl moved toward them. He recognised the girl immediately. She was the one that Hikaru spent the last weekend with and there was no doubt in his mind that it was her fault that Hikaru was lying in the operation room. However, the one thought that disturbed him the most was that she had no right to be the last person Hikaru saw.
“I’m so sorry, aunty.” Akari repeated over and over again as she ran into Shindo’s mother’s arms and wept on her shoulder. The older woman rubbed the girl’s back trying to calm her down while whispering comforting words.
A sharp pain jolted him awake as he slowly unclenched his fist to examine the wounds. Red nail marks were imbedded in his palm; some were deep enough to bleed a little. Akira shook his as head trying to clear it and wondered what had gotten into him all of the sudden. It seemed that only Shindo Hikaru could bring out the deep raw feelings in his heart.
Chapter 3: Chapter 2: In the beginning
Hand of Gods
Disclaimer & Warning are in prologue.
AN: Thank you Rayvern for beta this chapter.
As I have disclaimed in prologue, the plot is base on my imagination and added a few notes from the research on the net. If it is not meeting yours expectation than I’m sorry for being a poor amateur writer.
OK here is the people that involved in the Heian Period –
Hikaru Shindou = Hi (Sun) Tsuyujima
Occupation = Samurai
Sai Fujiwara = Sai Fujiwara
Occupation = Igo Instructor/Nobleman
Hikaru is in coma at the Tsukaguchi Hospital and his spirit is in the Heian Period
Please drop a line. Thanks.
Chapter Two: In the beginning or so they thought…
Present (Amagasaki -Tsukaguchi Hospital)/Past(Heian Period)
Hikaru opened his eyes, the bizarre feeling of being out of the world was the only way he was able to describe his state of being. He stared, amazed at the tiny hands in front of him flicking through the papers on the table.
It did not take long for Hikaru to realise the hands belong to him, however they did not obey him at all, as if he just an observer. He closed his eyes, confused at the event and yet he felt calm as if this was normal and nothing out of ordinary.
He was not sure how but he caught a line of thoughts and instinct told him to follow it. As if it were a fabric of time when he touched it, images immediately flashed around him and with it came the knowledge of what he was about to see.
Past (Heian Period)
Hi Tsuyujima was the only son of the Emperor’s Igo instructor. Hi was a sickly boy and rarely allowed to be outside by his father. However, on that fateful day when he turned thirteen, Fate had set forth the course of Fujiwara no Sai’s destruction.
“I wanted to go outside.” Hi winced and groaned at no-one particularly, and shoved the papers far away from him suddenly.
‘It’s my birthday damnit!’ he cursed, looking up at the four walls around him which was like a cage that trapped him inside. The servants were too scared of his father to play with him and his illness prevented him from joining the other boys.
‘It’s not my fault I had the fever again yesterday,’ he grumbled, feeling sorry for himself.
‘Well then, why don’t you just walk out that door? No-one will be able to stop you.’ His inner voice encouraged him but every time he stepped near the door, he remembered that incident. ‘What if he turns on me this time?’
‘No, no Hi… It is wrong to question your father. He is the best father anyone can ask for…and he has given me everything I have ever asked for.’
‘What a lame excuse you have there, Hi?’
‘He is a father so he must be a good man.’ He tried to sway his inner self.
‘Oh yeah,’ the voice mocked.
‘What about that time?’ A timid, child-like voice whispered. Hi shivered and wrapped his arms around himself.
Hi could not really remember when it had happened; he must have been very young since he saw everything around him as giants. One late night, he had woken up from fever and had stumbled on the scene where his father was whipping Tomo, not only a servant but also his beloved caretaker. The man had begged for mercy whilst his father gazed coldly and ignored his pleads and the brutality he had inflicted upon another being. Tomo’s body was slumped on the floor like a block of wood and blood covered him before his father saw Hi, frozen in shock at the door way, and stopped the whipping.
His father quickly dismissed everyone onsite. The servants scrammed off leaving a monster that resembled his father and the young boy alone. Reassured and promised by his father not to lose control again had helped him deal with it over time. Like any child Hi forgot and moved on but there still something inside that warned him not trust the old man again because he always dreamt of a mad man’s eyes.
“Tsuyujima-san, where are you?”
“I’m here,” Hi coughed loudly; he should not have yelled out loud when he was regrettably born with a weak lung.
“Oh there you are. Happy birthday, here is your present. I bought it myself on my last trip to Tokyo.” A small wooden bamboo ball rolled into his hand.
“Thank you!” Hi smiled brightly and shook the ball a bit as if testing its endurance.
“I’m also here to give your homework back Tsuyujima-san. The Master said your poem was good.” The small boy paused and asked shyly, “Can you help me? Otani-sensei spoke to my father the other day and I’m grounded until my studies are better.” The boy threw the bamboo ball back to his companion before footsteps echoed outside the room.
“Why would you ask Tsuyujima when I can help you, Suzuki?” A skinny slim boy pouted and regally walked into the room as if he owned it. Soon a group of young boys joined him.
“Otani-sensei said that Tsuyujima-san is talented…”Suzuki did not see the ball being thrown back at him and it smacked right on his forehead then bounced off across the path garden, which had been opened for the early morning fresh air. The group followed the bouncing ball and waited for it to land by the force of friction. They were surprised to see it roll off far ahead and stop on an outer footpath where a young man that they had never seen before happened to pass by. His face was simply too beautiful to be described and he looked more elegant than any of the lady in the Court.
The skinny boy cried out as soon as he recognised the elegant man, “Cousin Sai, could you please return my friend’s ball.”
Hi watched the man walk towards them gracefully and the smile on his face spread like the last ray of sunshine that fell on earth before the shadowed night took over.
‘My name fit him more than I do. I want him to be my Sun from now on until eternity.’ Hi was too busy memorising the man’s face to hear anything while Sai was unaware that he had captured the boy’s heart.
“Sorry, cousin Sai for troubling you but that is Tsuyujima-san’s birthday present.”
“Ah, so it is a present. Would you do the honour and introduce me to your friend, Your Highness?” Sai looked around, searching for the birthday boy. The skinny boy, who was addressed as the Crown prince of Japan, pushed Hi forward. Hi was bewildered when the sapphire held his emerald eyes; he wondered why the man was focusing on him.
“Hello, and how old would you be today, Tsuyujima-san?” Sai asked gently.
Still lost in his world, Hi was unable to comprehend what the man was asking him. He fluttered, unsure of what to do.
Sai took pity on him and handed over the ball before the boy responded. He felt sad for the young boy; he was obviously sick and the pale shallow face showed that he would not live very long. A pleasant tingle sparked from their slight contact of each other’s fingers when the ball was passed over and startled both of them.
“Please call me Hi.” The words had been uttered before he could stop himself.
Hi blushed at his mistake, realising he had offered the stranger permission to call him by his first name. He had not offered anyone in the group whom he had grown up with his first name nor does their custom allow such friendliness at the first meeting.
“Please forgive me…”
“It is alright, I will be honoured calling you by your first name if you’ll say mine.”
The Crown Prince laughed and broke the magic moment. Hi did not remember the rest of the day and the teasing of his friends, only the moment his eyes set on the young man called Sai.
Years had passed by and along with it, the closer their friendship became.
After classes, Hi often sneaked off secretly to meet his best friend and sometimes when his father was away from Court, he would come and watch Sai’s games with the other Courtiers.
He never told his father about Sai after the small incident when he mentioned Sai’s name. His father’s face contorted and his breaths became short; it almost looked like he was having a heart attack. Hi found out later that his father considered Sai as a rival since both were the Emperor’s Igo instructors and there was a silent war between them. But to be truthful, the silent war was more on his father side. As for Sai, he did not care about anything apart from playing his beloved Igo.
The friendship has helped to build Hi’s health as Sai encouraged him to be more active. It’s baffled everyone once they learned that Hi had enlisted as a samurai instead of becoming a scholar when he came of age. It seemed his health was better and his illness simply disappeared.
Past (Heian Period)
Five years later
“Good morning, Sai,” Hi cheerfully waved his palm to greet his friend. The small pond in the east garden was their secret meeting place, where they shared dreams of the future together.
“Good morning, Hi!” As always Sai gave the brightest smiles, pulling Hi into his arm for a brief hug.
“What’s the matter?” Sai’s arms automatically wrapped around Hi like a child, as if to protect the younger boy. Sai had not changed at all, more beautiful perhaps as Hi searched his friend face.
“I’m leaving tomorrow Sai…” Hi said wearily, and knew the tantrum was coming though no one had seen this side of the elegant young man except for him.
‘It’s a privilege…or may be not…’ he thought when Sai was screeching in his ears.
“What? You didn’t mention any of this before,” Sai yelled out loud, his mouth pouting whenever things were not going his way.
“I have my order Sai. It is a command from General Tanaka yesterday and you were too busy with your Igo…” Hi left the rest unfinished and bent down to pick up the rock and threw it across the tranquil water surface.
“Ne, ne Hi. That’s better! I like it better when you smile. I’m really sorry Hi. You did look worried yesterday and it was selfish of me not to follow you when you tried to tell me.” Sai nodded guiltily.
“I’ll be fine of course. Actually I’m really excited about this Sai. My first mission and this is part of my training to become a Samurai.” The younger man held the rock tighter in his palm. He could feel the stingy tears that threatened to fall from his eyes. For some reason he had a bad omen about this. This would be his last time seeing Sai.
“Hey Hi, what are you thinking? You look sad.” His hand snuggled Hi’s arms tightly.
Hi turned to stare at his friend, ‘How could I tell him that I may die in the battle and I’ll be separated from him?’
“I don’t want to leave you behind Sai; I want to be with you forever!”
‘At last the hidden words come out and I have said it. Yes, I love him dearly and he is more important than my life.’
“I feel that way too Hi.” Sai smiled understandingly and wrapped his arms tightly around the younger man. They did not speak after that because words were no longer needed. How long had they stood there, they did not know but Hi’s face paled when he saw his father, who was standing a few feet away.
Chapter 4: Chapter 3: The one left behind
Hand of Gods
Disclaimer & Warning are in prologue.
AN: Thank you Rayvern for beta this chapter.
This story is started after the anime there is no chan, please read the warning in the prologue…that means no relationship with six grade-children. Please no flame on yaoi, it’s not everyone cup of tea but I have already stated in the summary.
Immortals/Gods characters for the story are taken from Japan and China mythology
Ryūjin or Watatsumi – Japanese dragon and sea god
Uzume – goddess of joy and happiness and good health
Jurōjin or Gama – one of the Seven Gods of Fortune and longevity
Ida-Ten – god of law and monasteries (Cookies for those who’s able to guess who Ida Ten is)
Chapter Three: The one left behind…
Amagasaki (May 1, 2005)
“Touya-san, I’m afraid I can’t let you in there. Please understand, only family members are allowed to be inside.” A huge body blocked him from the door, the only way in to see Shindo and that did not settle well with Akira.
“Doctor, I will say it one last time…” his polite voice had gone since his earlier request had made no impact upon the dogmatic man. Akira started to contemplate using force if it became necessary, just like his Igo.
“Doctor, it’s alright. You’re Touya-san right? My son spoke a lot about you.” Hikaru’s father looked intently at his son’s friend as the doctor moved aside, resigned to letting Touya have his way. Touya’s childish yelling scene that he had stumbled on reminded him of Hikaru, his son the loud mouth.
Akira nodded. He had seen Hikaru’s father at a distance. The man is striking but up close his face looked friendlier than his father’s. May be it was due to the lines of old age around his eyes that showed he has had much laughter in his life.
“I’m sorry to be rude but Shindo…” before he could finish the sentence, the man’s hand rested on his shoulder and nodded.
“The operation is successful but Hikaru is in a coma. However, we won’t know whether he is out of danger until tomorrow.” Akira stood shakily. He had prepared for the worst but he did not expected to hear it so soon.
“Please go inside and stay with him. Maybe by hearing your voice it will help him to fight harder for his life.”
“Thank you sir, I’ll do my best.” Akira moved towards the bed where his rival was resting but stopped in his tracks when he saw Hikaru’s mother sleeping beside his bed while holding his hand fiercely.
“Love, let him go. This is Touya-san, a close friend of Hikaru.” Hikaru’s father woke his wife and helped her out of the chair. The poor woman was surprised to see Akira standing few feet away from her.
“Touya-san, when did you get here?” Hikaru’s mother was shocked to see the young man there. Hikaru had brought the boy home once but she knew Touya was special to her son by the way Hikaru looked at him. There were hints of laughter in her son’s eyes when they chat about Igo and for the first time that day she realised how miserable Hikaru had become.
“I’ve been here since the time they brought Hikaru in but I was not allowed to be near him, Shindo-san.”
“I’m so sorry dear; it’s just too much when we heard Hikaru was hurt in the crash. Otherwise, we would have noticed you sooner.” She held his hand in her own palms and said sincerely, “Thank you for being here.”
“Let Touya-san be alone with Hikaru, Love. Remember the doctor ordered you to rest.” Taking his wife’s hand, he led her away as she continued to protest.
“We’ll come back later, Touya-san and thank you. I’m sure Hikaru is pleased that you’re here.” He waved farewell to the young man, who had already occupied the chair where his wife had rested.
Immortal Realm (Present)
The small pond on the ground reflected the mortal world. However, it has been focused on a specific man, who is barely out his teen. The man is nothing special in appearance, except perhaps for a certain cuteness in his expression during his sleep. He did not achieve high academic results in school. Basically he is just an average mortal and yet not all is as it seems.
“He’s absolutely amazing!” the delighted cry disturbed his two companions.
“Don’t be an idiot Watatsumi. He is still who he is even if he’s in that form,” a beautiful woman replied, tucking her hair behind her ears while her other snowy hand played with the flowers growing along the side of the pond.
“Hmm, I agree with Watatsumi on this Uzume.” An old man nodded thoughtfully at the young man that they have been watching since the moment they heard a disturbance on earth. The moment when their friends reunited in that old shed.
“Pray tell me Gama, what is so significant about him remembering his past?” Uzume pouted and turned to the old man with a glare. She hated it when anyone contradicted her and there was little wonder to that. Who would have disagreed with one as beautiful as her?
“Ah, that’s where you’re wrong. It is not about him remembering but to do so when he had lived many lives on earth; that is the understatement.” Gama was amused, holding out an old scroll and pointing it at Uzume as if teasing her with it.
Uzume rolled her eyes, but she didn’t take her eyes off the scroll although she knew the old man would not allow her to read it.
‘Heaven forbid the old man is annoying.’
“I still say otherwise. Let us help him. I hate it when I see him suffering like this…”
“Uzume!” a powerful voice barked out from nowhere and cut off her speech.
“Ida Ten.” She shivered at the coldness that seized her, a warning that she should not take his command lightly. She appreciated why mortals feared him.
“Will you curse him to live another life on earth again, Uzume?” the voice chastised her. “Let it be. He will return when the time is right.” The voice disappeared along with his mighty presence.
“One would have thought they were not friends.” Uzume sniffed when she was sure he had left.
“Whatever, I’m going…no point being here if I’m not able to do anything.” Uzume vanished before the sentence finished, leaving two men behind.
“Kyoto is beautiful as always. Home at last,” Hi murmured as he appreciated the landscape leading toward the city.
Hi was just happy to be home after spending so many months chasing the bandits. The meals were always cold and the ground was too hard to sleep, but most of all he missed Sai.
The road to the Court Yard was flocked with people, standing at the sides and cheering for their hero’s return. The triumph and proud samurai soul swelled in his heart at that moment and even Shadow, his horse, snorted out loud as if Shadow too understood what was happening around him.
Hi was amused at Shadow’s displays but not enough to keep his eyes from wandering off in search for Sai. His happiness evaporated quickly as there was no sight of the man welcoming him home. The only possible conclusion was the Emperor had ordered Sai to stay with the other Courtiers.
His steps quickened when entering the Royal Chamber, where the Emperor meets his Court everyday. Tanaka General who was standing ahead of him started to kneel down and bow respectfully to the Emperor. Hi nearly tripped over in his haste in kneeling but thanks to his training exercises, he was able to maintain his balance before he became a jester of the Court.
When welcomes were made, Hi was allowed to wander off looking for Sai. His heart squeezed tightly when he found no sign of his beloved anywhere. The truth hit him hard, and he shook with grief at his loss. He began to understand the omens; instead of his life it was Sai that Fate has taken away. Hi was so overwhelmed with sorrow that he did made a fool of himself and collapsed on the floor meters away from the Emperor.
“Tsuyujima-sama, you’re awake,” The girl- servant exclaimed. Hi looked at her wearily as his memories flashed back and his face became paler.
“Sai, I’ve got to see him.”
“You can’t get up. The doctor had ordered you to have a few days’ rest, Tsuyujima-sama.”
The girl tried preventing him from moving from the mattress. His body shook with anger as he finally understood why he was ordered to rest for he did not even have the strength to push the girl away. Unable to move, his eyebrow rose and he glared at her, indicating that she has overstepped her boundary as a servant. The girl blushed as she turned away but continued nagging him.
“You must rest sir. Your father wished to speak as soon you’re awake. I’ll go and get him now.”
Hi hands reached out to stop her, shaking his head for that the last thing he wanted to do at the moment.
“No, I don’t want to see him now.” Hi gave up with a sigh. It looked like he would not able to get anywhere with this girl; she has been well trained.
“What’s your name?” Silence greeted him at he stared at the girl’s bewildered face.
“My name is Hona Kiko, Tsuyujima-sama,” the girl politely answered.
“Kiko, how long have you been working here?” Hi smiled charmingly at the girl, and knew it was working as the girl flushed redder. He started to realize the girl is pretty but she is still nothing comparing to Sai.
“It has been a year now,” she mumbled.
“I haven’t seen you before,” he stated while he tried to recollect if he has met her before but the headache was worsening and to continue thinking was a futile task.
“I was working in the kitchen until last month, before being promoted to housemaid, Tsuyujima-sama.”
Hi nodded and felt tired suddenly. He could not keep his eyes open and wanted to drift off to sleep again but his nagging thoughts over Sai stopped him in time.
“Sai!” he whispered to the cool air.
“Kiko, please could you go and get Sai for me. I won’t able to close my eyes before seeing him.” ‘I want to be sure that he is still alive.’ His thought finished off the sentence that was left unsaid.
Hi’s eyes dilated when he saw the moisture in her eyes, gleaming with tears.
“He is gone, sir.”
“Gone…what do you mean by gone?” He felt the strong urge to slap her insolent face, the violence that boiled inside stunned him so much that he stopped in time. He had never condoned of physical punishment, especially to a servant who had no strength or power to retaliate. He did not want to become his father.
“He has been banished from the capital,” a voice said. Without turning, Hi knew it was his father at the door.
“How? Why?” He was lost in his mind and did not see the girl had slipped out of the room like a rabbit being hunted.
“I’ll tell you when you get better. Congratulations on your return as a hero.” His father frosty voice trailed off as he was no longer able to stay awake and drifted off to unconsciousness. In his dream, Hi had willed himself to believe Sai hadn’t died and that he had only left the Capital.